Two weeks after the Scotch party, Mr. Shorter was maneuvering his way onto Ms. Quiles’s calendar. A flirty text dialogue he had initiated the night they met was in full flight. “The reason I asked him to kiss me at Macao is because our chemistry had grown exponentially those two weeks,” Ms. Quiles said.
Once Ms. Quiles was seated at the table — a coveted corner spot that Mr. Short had secured by bribing the maître d’ with a pair of Nikes — and had ordered a cocktail, “I was like, ‘Wow, he gets me,’” she said.
By 2012, neither was interested in dating anybody else. In 2013, Mr. Shorter moved into a condo near Ms. Quiles’s place in Jersey City. To then, he had spent most of his life in the Bronx, where his mother, Deborah Shorter, his grandmother, Sadie Gray, and six aunts had shepherded him through Evander Childs High School and directly into his first job selling sneakers at a local H & Y Sports store.
Two years later, they moved into a new home in Jersey City together. In 2016, she quit her agency job and started POP! By Yaz.
Mr. Shorter, who was by then managing Nike’s boutique business, was her sounding board for ideas. He also provided a backdrop of harmony at home, something Ms. Quiles’s past relationships had lacked. “Very early on, NaVell set the stage for a way of communicating that was respectful,” she said. “We would have conflicts, but we never raised our voices or cursed at each other.”
Past relationships were no longer worth remembering to Mr. Shorter. For him, a future with Ms. Quiles was becoming all that mattered. “I was like, when you know, you know,” he said. “Even food didn’t taste good to me when she wasn’t around.”